Australia boasts a rich tapestry of ancient foods that have thrived in its unique landscapes for millennia. Among these treasures, the Kakadu plum stands out, the fruit that has been harvested by Indigenous Australians for countless generations. There is little question the Kakadu plum is Australia's very own superfood.
Known by various Indigenous language terms, including Kabinyn, Madoor, Kerewey, Murunga, and Gubinge, the Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is also referred to as the billy goat plum or green plum in English. This diverse nomenclature reflects the wide distribution of its wild-growing trees, extending from the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia across the Northern Territory.
In recent years, the Kakadu plum has garnered significant attention, particularly for its extraordinary vitamin C content. While many turn to oranges for an immune boost, the Kakadu plum, about the size of a walnut, boasts a staggering 100 times more vitamin C than its citrus counterpart.
The harvest season for Kakadu plums spans from December to February in northern Western Australia and from March to May in the Northern Territory. During these periods, men, women, and families come together to engage in traditional practices of foraging, gathering, and family bonding while on the land. This unique experience allows them to connect with their heritage and the traditional bush tucker.
Kakadu Plum Consumption - A History
Traditionally, Indigenous Australians would consume the Kakadu plum in two forms. While the leaves and inner bark of the Kakadu plum tree were brewed into a bush tea to promote relaxation and digestive health, the fruit itself was consumed whole. The Kakadu plum consists of both the flesh and seeds, with Aboriginal communities recognizing its potential to ward off colds. However, they were cautious not to overindulge, as excessive consumption could lead to stomach discomfort or even a mild laxative effect, akin to prune juice.
Kakadu Plum - Uses beyond Tradition
Today, Kakadu plum has found new applications, expanding its reach beyond traditional consumption. Freeze-dried Kakadu plum is used as a natural health powder, ensuring its availability throughout the year. It has become a popular ingredient in smoothies, plum juices, purees, sauces, jams, and as a topping for soups and salads. The beauty industry has also embraced Kakadu plum extract, incorporating it into body lotions and hand creams.